Continuing with my exploration of the English Breakfast, I checked my bookshelves for cookbooks that tell what English detectives ate and how it was prepared. The most famous fictional English detectives often visited traditional country houses where their rich clients lived. These clients sometimes became murder victims and sometimes turned out to be the murderers -- but they still ate breakfast! Each of the cookbooks I found has rather extensive discussions of such breakfasts, including recipes. And these breakfasts were frequently just the type of English Breakfast that's described in Kaori O'Connor's book The English Breakfast (which I discussed here yesterday). While I've written posts about these three books before, I want to concentrate on their treatment of the detectives' breakfasts.
Agatha Christie's childhood home Torquay, and her favorite country residence Greenway House both served breakfast in the traditional country house manner, always in the special-purpose breakfast room. Christie loved these homes, and others where she lived as well, according to Crèmes & châtiments: Recettes délicieuses et criminelles (Creams and Punishments: Recipes both delicious and Criminal from Agatha Christie) by Anne Martinetti and François Rivère. My diligent searches have not turned up an Agatha Christie cookbook in English: I fear this is the only one that's been published.
|The only Agatha Christie cookbook I can find. Published 2005.|
From her first detective novel onward (published 1920), Agatha Christie often featured English country house breakfasts, as well as breakfasts eaten in other venues by her detectives and her other characters. The recipes and descriptions in Crèmes & châtiments begin with a detailed explanation of tea: its history, its many types and origins, and how English people enjoy it. Coffee lovers are also accommodated at a classic country house breakfast. As for Hercule Poirot, his beloved hot chocolate at breakfast is distinctly non-English. He requires it to be served on a very symmetrically arranged tray with a croissant or roll for dipping.
In her chapter on breakfast, Martinetti also includes recipes for tomatoes with white beans, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms in which you might just include one or two poisonous ones if you are an aspiring murderer; several types of eggs including omelet curry and eggs Benedict; kidneys with bacon, many fish dishes suitable for breakfast, and a couple of home-made marmalades. For every recipe there's an appropriate quotation from one of Agatha Christie's numerous stories, and many beautiful pictures.
In short: this book offers a very good selection for the classic English Breakfast!
Arthur Conan Doyle
|Not the only Sherlock Holmes Cookbook.|
|The Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook, published 1981.|
"Bloaters are herrings which have been lightly salted and smoked. They do not keep for long periods of time so they should be eaten right away like fresh fish... They are the famous 'red herrings' of literature.
"Allow one bloater per person. Not everyone at the breakfast table will want one. Trim each bloater of head and tail. Make incisions in the skin at approximately one-inch intervals across each side of the fish. Place the fish in a lightly buttered, shallow ovenproof dish. Dot each fish with butter and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated 350º oven. ...
"An even more distinguished bloater dish is suggested by Mrs. Sayers's husband, Atherton Fleming, in his cookbook. Major Fleming recommends putting two bloaters in a soup plate, poring on whiskey to cover, setting the dish afire, and letting it flame until done." (p. 9-10)